Pea Protein: Nutrition & Benefits

Pea Protein: Nutrition & Benefits

When you need alternatives to whey protein, you may be searching “what is pea protein?” Whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply looking for other options to popular whey protein, you might be curious about what pea protein can do for you. You may also want to know if it can boost your protein intake, help you lose weight, and aid you with your exercise regimen, just like other protein powders. Read on to find out more about how this naturally hypoallergenic food can help fuel your next workout.

What Is Pea Protein?

Like all protein powders, pea protein is a supplement that people use to increase the protein content in foods like smoothies and shakes. It is made by extracting the protein from yellow peas. The pea protein isolate is a beige powder easily absorbed by your digestive tract. The nutritional value can vary across brands, but two scoops of protein powder typically contain around 15 grams of protein.

People often seek out this supplement because it works with many special diets. Some protein powders contain common food allergens, so people who are allergic or have sensitivities or intolerances to other protein sources like soy or whey can enjoy pea protein. Vegans or anyone seeking out a plant-based protein powder might prefer the texture of pea protein powder. Many plant-based protein powders have a chalky or gritty texture that can be unpleasant. Pea protein blends well with water and has a pleasant texture, making it a popular choice. Pea protein is also a sustainable protein source.

What Are the Benefits of Pea Protein?

Pea protein has many health benefits:

  • Aids with muscle growth
  • Supports weight loss
  • Helps with heart health

The essential amino acids in pea protein contribute to their healthfulness. Arginine is found in pea protein and promotes heart health. Other amino acids, such as valine, isoleucine, and leucine, aid with muscle growth. Using protein powders like pea protein can help you lose weight. Increasing your protein intake can help prevent muscle loss when you run a calorie deficit to lose weight. It is also helpful for avoiding metabolic slowdown during weight loss. Protein also helps with satiety, allowing you to feel full for longer.

Pea protein is rich in iron, making it a good choice for the 10% of American women who are iron-deficient or anyone looking to boost their iron intake. For maximum absorption, consume it with vitamin C, which can increase iron absorption by 67%.

Plant-based protein powders may not provide all the amino acids your body needs. Pea protein, however, has all nine essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent choice for anyone on a plant-based diet who wants complete protein sources. Vegetarians once thought they had to combine protein sources at mealtime to ensure that they got a complete protein source. Dieticians no longer believe that protein combining is necessary, but still, a complete protein source is beneficial to anyone who wants to boost protein consumption in their diet.

Pea Protein vs. Whey Protein

All protein powders are made from whole food sources. In addition to protein, foods like milk, yellow peas, and soybeans contain other nutrients, such as carbohydrates and fat. Food manufacturers can isolate the protein, discarding the other nutrients, to provide a protein-dense supplement.

Protein powders and shakes are popular with many people, from athletes to committed gym-goers to the elderly. How do you know which protein powder to take? Pea protein and whey protein are among the most popular protein powder choices. We examine how these popular supplements compare to help you determine which one is best for you.


Whey and pea protein share a lot in common. Both contain high amounts of protein and are easily digested and absorbed by your body. Additionally, these protein supplements have a neutral taste that is easy to mask when incorporated into protein shakes and smoothies, as well as oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, and many other foods or beverages.

Whey protein is often seen as the gold standard of protein powders, making anyone who does not or cannot consume it feel left out. Pea protein’s many similarities to whey protein are reassuring to anyone seeking an alternative to whey protein. Multiple studies have confirmed that whey and pea protein have similar outcomes for muscle thickness and recovery for people who engage in high-intensity workouts.

Nutritional Value

The nutritional values of whey and pea protein powders are relatively similar. Whey protein does offer a few extra grams of protein, while pea protein offers a small amount of fiber and a significant portion of your iron intake for the day. See how their nutritional values compare for a 1-ounce scoop (30 grams) of protein powder:


Pea Protein

Whey Protein





22.5 grams

27 grams


1.5 grams

1 gram


2.25 grams

Less than 1 gram


0 grams

0.011 grams


1.5 grams

0 grams


42% of the DV

0% of the DV


There are some differences between these two popular protein supplements, which may be helpful to you as you decide which one is right for you. We break down the key distinctions between whey and pea proteins.

Whey Protein

  • Whey protein is a complete protein containing all nine amino acids and high amounts of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, valine, and isoleucine.
  • It contains a small amount of cholesterol.
  • It contains more calcium and potassium than pea protein.
  • It is easy to locate at many stores and online.
  • This protein supplement is more affordable than many plant-based options.
  • It helps you build muscle and lose weight as part of a high-protein diet.

Pea Protein

  • Pea protein contains all nine amino acids, though its methionine content is low. It has more of the amino acids histidine and phenylalanine compared to whey protein.
  • This protein supplement contains no cholesterol.
  • It contains a small amount of fiber.
  • This powder is rich in iron.
  • The fiber content may provide better satiety, but research is mixed on whether pea protein is more satiating than whey protein.
  • This food is suitable for vegans and people who are lactose intolerant or have milk allergies.
  • Pea protein has a lower environmental impact.

High-Quality Pea Protein Source

Finding a high-quality pea protein source is essential because not all brands make a quality product. Some protein powders contain additives or sugar, which should be avoided.

For protein powders, protein should be the first ingredient on the label, indicating that it has more protein than any other ingredient. For shakes, protein should be listed shortly after water. When looking for plant-based protein shakes or a plant-based shake variety pack, find shakes that are under 200 calories and provide 20 grams of protein as well as some fiber.

If you have dietary restrictions, make sure that the ingredients meet your needs. People with allergies will need to scan the ingredient list for food allergens. Vegans need to make sure their pea protein shakes or powders do not contain animal products and may want to look for vitamin-fortified shakes, especially B12, which must be supplemented on a vegan diet. With the right brand of pea protein shakes, you can enjoy all the benefits of a high-protein diet as well as the benefits of plant protein.

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